Connecting the World to the Digital Economy: The U.S. Case for Doreen Bogdan-Martin

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A woman smiles for a portrait photo, standing in front of a courtyard with many international flags.
Ms. Doreen Bogdan-Martin is the United States' candidate to serve as the next Director of the ITU’s Development Sector.

Connecting the World to the Digital Economy: The U.S. Case for Doreen Bogdan-Martin

Editor's Note: In this blog, the senior State Department officials responsible for international economics and information and communication policy explain why the United States supports Doreen Bogdan-Martin’s candidacy for Director of the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Telecommunication Development Bureau. If elected, Bogdan-Martin would provide innovative and accountable leadership. She would also be the first woman to hold one of the ITU’s top five elected positions.

The United States is committed to helping all people around the world benefit economically, socially, and politically from the power of information and communication technologies, or ICTs. To do this, we support private investment, provide bilateral aid, and engage through multilateral processes, including at the ITU—the UN agency that supports global telecommunications. In fact, the United States is one of the two largest contributors to the ITU and one of the most active members. As a global leader in technology and a driver of innovative solutions for digital development, we believe our ITU engagement advances our own economic and security interests while simultaneously promoting global connectivity and prosperity. 

That’s why we are seeking re-election of the United States to the ITU Council and supporting the candidacy of Ms. Doreen Bogdan-Martin for Director of the ITU’s Bureau of Telecommunication Development (BDT). An American has never before competed for the ITU Development Bureau Director, but we’ve never had a candidate as uniquely qualified for the post as Doreen is. She has spent more than 25 years in the telecommunications sector, including 14 years working in the ITU’s BDT accumulating an impressive track record of accomplishments. She was the chief architect of the Global Symposium for Regulators, coordinated the UN Broadband Commission, and launched the ITU’s new gender empowerment initiative EQUALS, a program that was highlighted at Germany’s W20 Summit and in the August 2018 “G20 Digital Economy Ministerial Declaration.”

Ms. Bogdan-Martin visits a Rwandan company which delivers blood and medical supplies by drone within minutes, despite the mountainous terrain.

In addition to her innovative leadership, Doreen would be best equipped to leverage global efforts to promote connectivity around the world, including those from the United States. These include the “Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership” and USAID’s WomenConnect Challenge. The former is a multi-year, global initiative to promote access to an open, reliable, and secure Internet based on the multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance. The latter is a global call for solutions to meaningfully change how women and girls access technology, to drive positive health, education, and livelihoods outcomes for themselves and their families. These initiatives dovetail with the ITU’s “Connect 2020” initiative, under which there are plans to help bring more households and individuals online by the year 2020. The ITU Bureau of Telecommunication Development is at the forefront of Connect 2020. Doreen, as the ITU Development Bureau Director, would be uniquely positioned to achieve synergies among these initiatives.

Connecting nearly 4 billion unconnected people around the world represents a huge opportunity for improving lives and nations' economic destinies. Ms. Bogdan-Martin of the ITU has visionary ideas on taking the internet to all corners of the world.

This is due in large part to her ability to marshal additional resources from around the world. Prior to joining the ITU, Doreen worked at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Many of the businesspeople she worked with then, and since, are now senior executives at major ICT firms from the United States and elsewhere. Through her longstanding relationships with these professionals, she would be able to bring in more partners and resources to help the ITU improve global connectivity.

Our campaigns for the ITU Council and Doreen’s race to head the BDT clearly demonstrate the ongoing U.S. commitment to playing a leadership role in the ITU. The whole U.S. government will be working overtime between now and the elections to win the support of fellow ITU members for our candidacies, and for pragmatic approaches to fostering an open, reliable, and secure Internet available to everyone in the world.

About the Authors: Manisha Singh is Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs and Robert Strayer is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Cyber and International Communication & Information Policy in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.

Manisha Singh
Robert Strayer